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2005 Mariinsky Festival Reports!

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You're very diplomatic Natalia :thanks:!! 

Now, now....I want to get out of this town alive.

Somova recently switched to Olga Moiseeva as coach. Moiseeva may not have had the necessary time to do her magic. :)

Now off to a childrens ballet at the Estrada Theater ('Butterfly') and another kiddie matinee tom'rw at the Moussorgsky ('Little Humpbacked Horse'). No reporting...just chillin'! - Natalia

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***sixth on-site report by Natalia***

Saturday, SWAN LAKE (Petipa, Ivanov – Tchaikovsky)

2 April

*Night in Memory of Konstantin Sergeev (95th birthday)

Odette/Odile - Viktoria Tereshkina

Prince Siegfried - Igor Kolb (in place of the announced POB guest, Laurent Hilaire)

Von Rothbart - Ilya Kuznetsov

Act I Pas de Trois - 1st var. Daria Sukhorukova; 2nd var. Anton Korsakov; 3rd var. Yana Selina

Joker (aka Jester) - Andrei Ivanov

Four Cygnets - Schmill/S. Ivanova/Selina/Khaldina

Four Big Swans - Iosifidi/Ostreikovskaya/Yesina/Vostrotina

Two Solo Swans, Act III - Xenia Ostreikovskaya & Daria Sukhorukova

Act II National Dances:

Spanish - Ti Yon Riu/Lira Khuslamova/Islom Baimuradov/Fedor Lopukhov

Neopolitan - Yana Khaldina/Alexei Nedviga

Hungarian Csardas leaders - Xenia Dubrovina/Artyom Yachmennikov

Mazurka - Rakhmanova/Vasilets/Iosifidi/Slivkina; Yakovlev II/Nikitin/Sharapov/L;imov


You know there's a problem when the loudest bravos of the night go to Von Rothbart. Not that high-flying Ilya Kuznetsov didn't deserve the cheers...but Von Rothbart is rarely the hero of this ballet. This was one of those nights when a whole lot went right & was basically beautiful but very little was perfect. Sloppy little errors prevailed...a miscued French Horn here...a corps swan's arms pointed in the wrong direction there...a Prince Siegfried failing to lift his Odile at the end of Black Swan pdd...30 superb single fouettes followed by a botched 31st one ending in an ungainly wide-apart-legs pose. That sort of night. Still, it's always a pleasure to experiencé the Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake in its home theater.


Act I began with a lot to admire in the elegant lines & manners of Prince Siegfried, Igor Kolb. I could gaze at the high-arched insteps of his feet, in demi-pointe, forever!

The Pas de Trois in Act I/sc. 1 had mixed results. With memories of the perfect ABT dancers in DC, last month (Cornejo & ladies), perhaps I'm expecting too much. The ladies (Sukhorukova & Selina) were fine but not particularly high jumpers & ballon in a big part of this dance. Korsakov completely forsook the standard Petipa choreography to begin with a diagonal of simpler double front cabrioles...but he ended strongly with a flurry of entrechats-six a-la-Bluebird, to great applause.

As Jesters go, Andrei Ivanov is not among the finest, although, again, he had a moment of brilliance with some zippy pirouettes a-la-seconde, performed just before the Goblet Dance by the corps.

Viktoria Terioshkina possesses admirable long lines & 'plastique' as Odette. Most of her poses are delectable, some reminiscent of Mezentseva or Makhalina. However, I was troubled by the over-arch of her torso in many poses, making her appear like a Soviet-era gymnast at a Spartakiade. Too, Terioshkina -- who has a lovely, almost-Oriental face -- has a disconcerting habit of pursing her lips, as if afraid to show her teeth. [she finally showed some teeth for a few seconds in Act II, as Odile, but mostly maintained her standard look.]

Terioshkina's adagios with Kolb went mostly well. The lakeside 'white pdd'was truly inspired...an almost religious serenity in each and every shape & pose formed by the couple. During the middle diagonal section, Kolb lifted Terioshkina steadily & grandly. The Black Swan pdd began equally as fine, then the messy attempt as the final lift left a negative final impression. Too bad.

Kolb -- ever the fine technician -- did not disappoint in his Black pdd solo...but Terioshkina 'skidded' several times during her Odile solo...by this I mean that she performed the initial series of double-pirouettes-en-attitude so energetically (rather than in soft, floating manner, like Michele Wiles of ABT) that she had trouble stopping when planting-down the sole of her slipper, so that she skidded half a turn beyond the normal position, barely facing the audience. She did this repeatedly.

As mentioned before, Kuznetsov totally triumphed as Von Rothbart...well, not in the story...but as a soloist on that stage last night. His stag jumps were incredibly high, bringing gasps from the audience. His double tours covered almost half the width of the stage in each leap. And this is the villain??? Well, 'bravo' to the villain!

Kudos, too, to the leaders of the National Dances in Act II -- all named above -- but especially to the Hungarian Csardas led by the gorgeous pair of Xenia Dubrovina (what a beauty!) and tall Artyom Yachmennikov (I'm prejudiced here...read my Raymonda/Lopatkina Night review to refresh your memories)!

Not a 'Swan Lake'for the ages but, still, a pleasure to see it in the House of Petipa.

Next: Final Gala...with a very different divertissements section from that published at the start of the Festival...including the just-added 'Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux' by Olesya Novikova & Leonid Sarafanov. The all-star Ín the Night'-- Lopatkina/Vishneva/Pavlenko and partners -- opens the program. We leave with a bang. I'll try to post a very quick review after tomorrow's gala but, if not, it will follow soon upon my return to DC in midweek.

Natalia Nabatova

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Additional notes, not related to the festival:

* The reviews for Eifman's new Ánna Karenina'are mostly positive, as he is beloved here. I just learned that the ballet actually premiered in previews in Krasnodar (southern Russia, near the Black Sea) but the official 'world premiere'was in St Pete three nights ago. I'll catch it in NY, this May.

*HOWEVER, a few of the more liberated ladies here are a bit ticked off by Eifman's recent comments to the press about the story of Anna, saying that it represents true Russian women's desire to be slaves to a man & that so-called 'women's liberation' is impossible. hmmmm...perhaps it's a theme for discussion in our Eifman forum, no? I'll get this started when the City Center run of Anna Karenina comes about. [Maybe it's just the publicity-hunting side of Eifman...:D ]

* We mentioned books earlier. Ballet books are busting out all over. The fabulous Áge of Balanchine' tome -- coffee table size -- that was printed for last year's Balanchine 100 White Nights event has been reprinted but selling like hotcakes.

* A spectacular, if pricey, "Theme & Variations: History of the Mariinsky & its Predecessor Theaters'' (ballet & opera) tome -- also in coffee-table book format -- was published in both English & Russian versions. It containes about 300 pages of archival photos, colour scenic/costume designs, multiple essays by leading scholars, etc, etc. Be warned: bring a suitcase & lots of moolah on your next trip to St Pete, if you're coming here anythime soon!!! These books are HEAVY!

* The recent books/photo-albums on Soloviev, Shelest, Maximova, 'Áve Maya' Plisetskaya have been mentioned. There's also a colour brochure/booklet on Diana Vishneva, published on occasion of her 10th anniversary of service to the theater...in the brochure, this is termed as the apogee of every ballerina's career -- the half-way point. (age 27)

* In reprint, originally published in 2003 (for the St P-300 celebrations): Encyclopaedia of St. Petersburg-Leningrad Dancers: 1903 - 2003...a veritable 'bible' of information on all soloists (not just principals) who have danced at the five major professional ballet troupes here...Mariinsky - Maly/Moussorgsky - Choreographic Miniatures (Petukhov's troupe) - Conservatory (Dolgushin's troupe) - and, of course, Boris Eifman Ballet.

* Not much on the video-DVD front...although two recent compilation vids are tempting: Dudinskaya & Ruzimatov. Almost all new videos/DVDs in Russia are from the Bolshoi. Shame - but great for Bolshoi lovers. Of course, 'locals'have access to the almost-weekly Kultura original ballet programmes, Tsars Boxes & such, so the commercially-released efforts are not so necessary. It's only we ''ínostranki' -- especially North Americans -- who get short shrift.

* It's always a delight to wander around the Hermitage Museum. Presently, there's a lovely exhibit (near the Hermitage Theater's entrance) on St. Petersburg Theater Costumes on Mythological Themes. There are many hand-painted gems here, by Bakst & Benois, including costumes from the original Daphnis et Chloe...and Mathilde Kchessinskaya's costume from the Fokine rarity, Eros.

* Speaking of exhibitions, a private gallery has a special exhibit of photos & original costumes worn by Dudinskaya & Sergeev...and the Mariinsky's own small display cases in the main Intermission Lobby contain original objects/props from the 1890 Sleeping Beauty...incluiding the cluster of silk lilacs carried by Marie Petipa, as the Lilac Fairy. Sweet!!!!!

On to tonight's gala, in a bit. - Natalia

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***Natalia's 7th & final report on the current trip ***

Sunday, INTERNATIONAL STARS’ GALA: a 20th-C choreography showcase

3 April

[MANY CHANGES to what was published above, in my first post to this thread]

I. Approximate Sonata (Forsythe - Willems) Kirov premiere at the opening of this festival [this replaced ''Ín the Night" from which only one pdd was presented tonight - see below, divertissements]

Elena Sheshina & Andrei Ivanov

Elena Vostrotina & Maxim Chaschegorov

Yekaterina Petina & Alexei Nedviga

Viktoria Terioshkina & Maxim Zuizin

II. Divertissement: [bejart's Opus 5 and Songs of the Wanderer, plus Ashton's Voices of Spring, all scratched]

a. Tchaikovsky pdd (Balanchine) Olesya Novikova & Leonid Sarafanov

b. Forsythe's 'Limb Theorem' solo - Noah Gelbert (ex-Forsythe Troupe dancer)

c. In the Night pdd (Robbins - Chopin) Uliana Lopatkina & Ilya Kuznetsov

d. Hasapiki Solo from 'Sept Dances Grecques' (Bejart - Theodorakis) Laurent Hilaire (POB guest)

e. Don Q pdd - Svetlana Zakharova & Andrei Uvarov (both from Bolshoi Ballet)

III. Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto no. 2, a.k.a. Ballet Imperial (Balanchine) - Viktoria Terioshkina - Igor Zelenski - Olesya Novikova

Demi-soloists: Selina/Obratsova/Zuizin/Shklyarov


While it was very disappointing to not see the highly-touted áll-star In the Night (touted in posters that went up only two days ago in the lobby with the changes mentioned yesterday...but not the many other changes that occured)...it was nonetheless a very pleasant evening, nicely balancing the very modern, the neoclassical and the classical. I may have been the only person in the auditorium who was delighted to see Approximate Sonata, as I had missed its two previous showings at this festival during the first two days. It was OK - not as bad as it had been described to me on the telephone! It was sad to not see Legris or the Royal Ballet's duo of Marquez/Samodurov in Ashton's Voices of Spring...but, on the other hand, we saw the unannounced Zakharova & Uvarov in Don Q...and, my, has Zakharova's technique improved ten-fold since her Mariinsky days!!! Viktoria Terioshkina redeemed herself from an iffy Swan Lake (last night) with a brilliant Ballet Imperial. Hilaire was captivating in the Bejart solo. The huge surprise of the night, though, was the unexpected: multiples bravos & cheers for a guy named Noah D. Gelber, dancing Forsythe's 'Limb Theorem.' Gelber was called out for multiple curtain calls...it was an incredible sight.


Now I understand what was relayed to me by friends, regarding this ballet. It *is* raw...it is somewhat dark...and it is Andrei Ivanov's ballet, no doubt. WOW! The so-called transformation scene described by my friends occurs at the very start. Curtain up & only Ivanov is onstage, in blue jeans & purple tank top...making faces & growling like a lion in the jungle...he walks towards us & transforms himself into a man...before he is joined by partner Elena Sheshina. Thus the moral of this ballet - the world is a cruel jungle & we are mere animals. Each man for himself/herself!

This ballet consists of four pas de deuxs (four different couples), with the first couple, Sheshina & Ivanov, returning for the finale. All women, except for tall & lanky Elena Vostrotina (in couple #2), wear dard one-piece swimsuit-like leotards sans tights; Vostrotina wears the swimsuit and lime-green lycra pants, accentuating her endless, rail-thin, legs. All four men dress identically, in the blue jeans & purple tank top.

The setting is bare...a series of screens -- each a different tone of grey -- move up & down throughout the dance. A sign with the Russian word "DA"(yes) is backstage left.

After the odd lion-transitional scene, the music is mostly unmemorable electric-piano muzak. It's nothing like the mesmerizing scores of other Forsythe ballets, such as In the Middle or the small solo that we saw later tonight.

The choreography is standard Forsythe...lots of off-balance lifts...smooth-transitioning pirouttes, swoops and such. After the first couple, it all becomes repetitive & not all that memorable to me, truth be told. Ivanov & Sheshina WERE great, however. That I do remember!

The Tchai PDD of Novikova & Sarafanov went OK but a bit tentative, especially in the partnered sections. I'm not sure if Novikova has danced this before but she seems to be not at in in time to the music &, at times, held her hands with palms up & fingers together...like ailerons on a jet plane! Sarafanov was superb - MAGNIFICENT - in his solo...and he did a relative good job in partnering the ballerina. The only trouble -- and I was holding my breath for this one! -- was the big final carry-lift into the winds, at the end. Started out OK...but he couldn't lift her past his chest..she didn't go up...they were dashing for the wings...he let her down abruptly, about one foot from the wings...and, from my seat angle, I saw her tumble into the wings...but only those of us seated at the far right of the house saw this.

The solo from Forsythe's Limb Theorem, danced by long-time Forsythe dancer & co-coach, Noah D. Gelber, was the surprise of the night! Set to music that is vibrant & very reminiscent of Ín the Middle...Somewhat Elevated,' it is 4-5 minutes of non-stop energy full of swoops & leaps that truly reflect the music. The soloist periodically takes off part of him outfit...until he exposes his legs...the limbs of the title? Suffice it to say that this garnered the greatest applause of the night, beside Lopatkina & Zakharova's pieces!!!

The great Uliana Lopatkina was well-matched & partnered by last night's magnificent Von Rothbart -- now looking just like his tall, handsome self -- Ilya Kuznetsov. They danced the ''ángry pas de deux" from this Robbins ballet...each one of them sometimes running in & out of the wings. Huge bravos, as expected.

Laurent Hilaire did not disappoint in his solo -- actually two solos, to different Greek-folk-like music. He is ever the handsome artist...especially in those white tights & bare chest. [There's always something for the ladies, it seems...last year it was Roberto Bolle in beige shorts dancing the Excelsior pdd!] Hilaire danced with elegance & control.

I'm eating my hat. I never expected to be bowled over by Svetlana Zakharova -- she's been nothing but pretty long legs and 180-degree penchees to me -- but bowled over I was, by her Don Q pdd with long-and-lean Andrei Uvarov! He's fine if a tad anemic...but SHE...she has improved 10-fold in her technique. Never a great fouette artist, this time she did an entire strong, zippy, series of single-single-double to the very end, her last one as strong as the first. Brava! She had by far the most bouquets & baskets brought to the stage, the local public obviously adoring her. All of this with, it seems, one day's notice.

The evening & the Festival ended on a golden note with Balanchine's Ballet Imperial. It's been one year since the company premiered its rendition of this work & they have settled nicely into it. The corps takes first honors overall, yet again. Terioshkina was spot-on, dancing brilliantly. Zelensky partnered her steadily but, alas, his solo work was a shadow of what it used to be in his NYCB days. The 2nd-female role is still beyond the abilities of Novikova, who faltered more often than I cared to point out. But this matters not that much, as the corps's beauty & crispness won the day.

Thank you for a wonderful festival, Mariinsky Theater & St. Petersburg!

Natalia Nabatova

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Dear Natalia,

As far as I'm aware, you're one of the craziest, most fantastic balletomane! Thanks for your enthusiastic, affectionate, and insightful reports from St. P - can't imagine how I could have managed the last 10 days without them!


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Thanks for the kind words, all! :wink:

I'm back in Washington, DC...bummer! :( Ah, well, my next reports should be the Moscow Int'l Ballet Competition in late June...as I don't DARE try to do the same sort of reporting for the Bournonville Festival in early June, as I'm just an admirer & not an expert on the Danish style. I'll use the B'ville time to energize myself so that I can do play-by-play in Moscow.

Speaking of the Moscow IBC...

Several Bolshoi & Kirov-Mariinsky dancers -- and older students from both troupes' academies -- will be among the competitors, so you'll be reading about the upcoming stars here. The winners of the Moscow IBC always go on to greatness...the last such competition (2001) brought us Roberta Marquez/Thiago Soares (now with Royal Ballet), Leonid Sarafanov (with Kirov) and Katia Schipulina (now Bolshoi principal). The contest before (1997) brought Alina Cojocaru & Maria Alexandrova to light. Yuri Grigorovich & Altynai Assylmuratova will head the jury, as they did in 2001.

- Natalia

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Thank you - Natalia and others - for your reports. Living vicariously is better than nothing...

I believe that I'm the only one among us who wrote reports, GWTW. It's a shame that others who were there were shy or did not have the time.

We will have a report/overview from Clement Crisp for The Financial Times soon, as I spotted him in the theater. We'll have to keep an eye on our 'Links' forum for that one. :wink:

The Kultura channel of Russia will be telecasting highlights of the festival, including most of the final night's ballets. I spoke with their producer & she could not give me the exact date but it will happen in the late April/early May timeframe. Our Russian friends with VCRs will be alerted as soon as I get the word.

p.s. - I also took a few seconds to thank the Kultura staff for their wonderful service in bringing so much classical ballet to Russian households. [My seat for the final gala was next to the Kultura box; there are no walls between the parterre-level boxes.] They could not believe the dearth of ballet on American TV, as NYC has some of the greatest troupes on earth (not to mention other US cities with fine companies). Very sad indeed.

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Thank's alot for your rewiews.

About the endless lift of Johan Kobborg. I've heard from a friend, who was there, that Alina Cojocaru shrugged, when he didn't let her down. Is it true  :angry2: ?

Absolutely correct! This was the same spot where the conductor set down his baton & the orchestra took a rest. It all happened on the second such lift during the final music in Act I. Kobborg had held her up for a good 30 seconds when she shook her arms at him and made a mock-nasty face as if to ask, "When the heck are you going to put me down?" Kobborg just stared at the audience & grinned....then cocked his head, as if to say, "Shall I lower her? OK - that's enough!" Then he let her down.

The hall was screaming 'bravos' throughout all of this. I'll never forget that performance of Don Q as long as I live. Kultura filmed the entire ballet for 'moments' to use in its annual Festival Recap show...and I'm really hoping that this moment will make it into the programme, which is set to air throughout Russia during the late April/early May timeframe.

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thank you for the Mariinski reports!

After reading them I'm now seriously considering of attending the festival next year!

Do you know how early the program for each year is announced? Is solo travel (without a group/travel agency) easy in St.Petersburg?


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Hi, chrisk217 -

Thanks for your post & the kind words! :)

HOTEL: Travel to Moscow or St Pete without an agency has become a lot simpler during the past 3-4 years, due to the proliferation of reliable on-line local discount-hotel agencies which supply visa documents & airport pick-up as part of their services.

Two of the more reliable, which my friends have used without problems, include:



www.hotelsrussia.com [i've used this one if my destination is outside of Moscow or St Pete...they're super-fast & reliable, faxing your documents within 24 hrs of hotel reservation]

There are others but I have good personal experience on the above two. *Their daily lodging rates are SUBTANTIALLY LOWER than those of Orbitz, Travelocity or other major travel agents. For example, there are a number of good B&B-type properties at the $75 - 80 range per night, in walking distance from the Mariinsky Theater (between the theater and lower Nevsky Prospekt...an address lower than the number 50).

AIRLINE: I'd use Orbitz/Expedia/Travelocity just for the airline ticket....which should not cost more than $700 r/trip from eastern US during Festival time (late winter/early spring).

DOCUMENTS FROM HOTEL: Once you make your on-line hotel reservations (must be purchased in total with credit card), then you'll receive your faxed 'Voucher' (payment confirmation) & 'Visa Support Letter', which you must include in your application for a Russian Tourist Visa.

VISA: You then apply for Russian Tourist Visa at Russian Consultate (in DC, NY, Houston, Seattle and...1 other place I've forgotten). You can download the Visa Application & instructions -- with payment schedule...$100 for 2-week turn-around is cheapest, if memory serves...at the following website: www.russianembassy.org

THEATER TIX: The good news is that folks can now easily purchase tix online, via the Mariinsky Website www.mariinsky.ru (English or Russian options; a quick registration is necessary). If it's your first time in St P, I'd suggest you do that...although there are usually tix available to purchase on the street, outside the theater, CASH only...but there's an ATM in the Mariinsky Lobby for Cash-from-Credit-Cards! By no means should you use a hotel or tourist agent for theater tix, as the mark-up is outrageous; you can buy tix at the base price for foreigners on the Mariinsky website.

BALLET SCHEDULE: The initial posting of the Mariinsky Schedule happens around December. I would book as soon as I have the dates of the Festival. Those do not change...but, as we all know, the actual ballets are never set into stone...not even on the day of the performance. :) However, you are pretty well assured of a great performance on any day during the Festival period. During other periods you run the risk of a ballet evening being substituted for an opera or orchestral concert (or a different ballet than that announced).

FINALLY - Next year's Festival would be a GREAT time to go, as that will be the last one that happens in the old theater, as it currently looks. The Mariinsky shuts down for 2-3 years of renovation following the 2005/2006 season. Yes - it's officially announced as a two-year shutdown but those of us who've spent any time in Russia know what really happens during "ремонт" of buildings... :wink: Even after the theater reopens, certain sections will be 'jazzed up.' Those of us who are nostalgic types want to breathe-in that 'Petipa Dust' one last time!

Hope that this helps. Good luck.


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Thanks for all the info. I am promising myself that it will be of use to me one day. :)

What is the difference in programming and in 'feel' between the Maryinski Festival and the White Nights Festival? (I have a hard time with the Mid-Atlantic winters and shudder at the thought of St. Petersburg in the snow or the slush.)

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White Nights include opera & orchestral concerts, in addition to ballet. The ballet evenings are just as fabulous as at the ballet-only Mariinsky Festival. However, the 'atmosphere' is different.

The White Nights Festival in May/June/July is Gergiev's baby...the entire stalls/orchestra (not to mention, the Tsars Box) section is dripping in diamonds...curtains are often late 'cause Gergiev is fundraising at cocktail parties in private rooms connected with the theater...the US-based heirs of the Romanovs parade in full regalia...that sort of thing.

The Mariinsky Int'l Fest is more down-to-earth...most foreigners are just-plain French tourists, with an odd German businessman or two, none of them dripping in diamonds.

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Thank you, Natalia, for your wonderful reports!

I still have yet to post my own observations -- I saw the Daria Pavlenko benefit, Manon, and Swan Lake. While I'm not an expert I did take extensive notes on all three and do wish to share them, but my schedule has been so hectic I hardly ever find time to go to an Internet cafe. I promise to post them within the next few days, while they are still (somewhat) timely.

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